Monday, November 18, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Past the “Halfway” Point

Redwood in the Stout Memorial Grove

…and my word count is ZERO.

That’s right, goose egg.  Nada y nada…

So I should be in a state of panic, flailing through the murk and mud of desperation, frantically flinging that mud at a blank page just so I have something that just might stick, right?

imageWrong.  Because, so far, NaNoWriMo 2013 has been a success for me.

How can this be? 

Well, it is a success because it is accomplishing its goal; it has me thinking about writing and the writing process every day.  It has taken my book out of its 11-month hiatus and put it back into the forefront of my mind, not as a “Once I get some time, and the fairies flutter, dancing through the air ‘midst the flying pigs, I will sit down and finish my book…” sort of project but as a real and active project that requires scheduling and thought and work and sacrifice of sleep and a revision of other goals to happen.

NaNoWriMo 2013 has been a success for me, so far, because it has allowed me to do these things and to, therefore, be a writer again for the first time since early December 2012. 

Unfortunately, because of that 11-month hiatus, my writing process does not allow me to dive immediately right back into writing on this novel.  Sure, I could review my outline and notes, re-read the last 20 pages and dive in, but I know that the inconsistencies this would create within the draft would take more time to hammer out later than it is worth, and there is always the danger that some of those continuity errors, from style to major plot points, might survive through to later drafts, so I’d rather take the time to do this right, and that means reading before writing.

And I have been reading, so I can say work on the novel has resumed, which is a very exciting thing for me.  Plus, the process of reading is getting me fired up to do some writing, hopefully very soon.

So I should end November with some points on the board, though it may be nowhere near 50K mark.  But this is okay.  As I wrote at the beginning of the month, my goals are different this year.

And so far, considering my personal goals for this year, I feel that this has been a very successful NaNoWriMo for me, even if my word count is still at zero. 

It has been a struggle, though, to start building the habits I’ll need to see this project through to the end.  Working on my novel every day?  Not even close, yet, but I am getting closer.  It is a process and, like I mentioned before, it involves scheduling time and revising goals in other areas of life and it involves making a few sacrifices, not only in the sleep department.  But it is a win, so far, because, for the first time in a long time, I am doing these things instead of thinking about doing these things or, my favorite cop out, trying to do these things and failing.

As for the novel itself, there is a lot to be gained from reading it after such a long break.  I remember the broad strokes but not all of the details, and this break has really allowed me to see the text with fresh eyes, seeing where my backstory is clear and where it needs to be fleshed out more, what details are redundant and can be trimmed and which need to be emphasized a little bit more.

Overall, I am pleased with the way the narrative is holding together, though some structural concerns I’ve had since early November last year will need to be addressed in the next draft. 

To be sure, reading and editing are considered mortal sins in NaNoWriMo, and I’d be crazy to do much editing at this point in the draft anyway, so I am limiting myself to some light red inking and the occasional sparse note.  If I am not careful, I could easily get lost in the lotus fields of endlessly tweaking the first chapters and never finishing a complete draft, and this is a trap I know not to fall into at this point in my development as a writer.

Moreover, what this process is giving me is not only the desire to see the first draft through to the end, but to also get started on the rewrite pretty darn quick when I am done with the first draft.  I do not believe, due to that 11-month break, that a normal incubation time will be needed between the first and second draft because I’ve had a year break already on the first 86,000 words. 

My eyes and ears are clear and ready to work and I am excited to see what this will look like when it is done, hopefully much sooner than later.  And if it were not for NaNoWriMo 2013, I am not sure that the end would ever arrive.  For that, I am very thankful.  Regardless of how much actual writing I accomplish by the end of the month, I already consider 2013 a personal win because I am working on writing once again, and since I am working, reaching the end of this novel is actually possible now.

I’ve got two novels already, for various (and valid) reasons, laying half written on the dust heap.  It would break my heart to add a third…

Of course, for this year to truly count as a win for me, with my personal goals, I have to keep working on this novel past the end of November, through December, and on into and through 2014.  So, unlike most people, I will not know if I have “won” NaNoWriMo 2013 or not on December 1.  It will take some time to tell whether or not I’ve met or exceeded my November goals, and that is my challenge this year.

Zero words, no problem.  So far, so good, though, and I am making real progress towards accomplishing my November goals.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: The Plan

November 2 and my word count is zero.  Yep.

And I’ve been planning on writing a blog post about NaNoWriMo 2013 for about a week now…

Well, we all have to start somewhere.

In a sense, though, I have started because I am taking the rebel route this year and finishing the book I started last year instead of starting a new one.   Because of this, I am not going for a “win” this year with 50,000 words.

And I am not even setting a goal of finishing my book.

So why even “participate” if I am not really participating, if I am not even setting any goals?

Because, to me, one of the primary purposes of NaNoWriMo is that it gives aspiring writers a framework to build solid writing habits, and this is something I am in terrible need of this year.

I’ve been a professional writer for years, but it has been technical writing.  Honestly, I find it difficult to even call that writing.  Most of what I do in that field is layout design, photography, and cutting and pasting.  But I’ve always considered myself a writer, it’s just been many, many years since I’ve actually done any real writing.

Last year, during my first NaNoWriMo, I finally felt like I was coming home to the craft I’d been neglecting for far too long.  I was writing fiction for the first time in over a decade and I was writing a lot and almost every day.  I was building all those good habits I’d been neglecting for so long: daily work, writing even if I wasn’t in the mood, working through blocks and deadspots, staring down the smug cold stare of the blank page and making it my bitch…

It felt good.  And the community of writers online, who were all in the same place I was, going through the same things I was going through, added just enough encouragement to get through the tough spots.  Writing is usually a very solo and sometimes lonely art, and I loved the community feel that NaNoWriMo (especially the Portland Facebook Group) brought to the experience.

In 2012, things went great.  I jammed through my 50K and finished somewhere in the mid-60s.  I didn’t finish the book, which was a goal, but it was firing along nicely and I was still working.  Then, in mid-December, the next big project came along and I had to set the novel aside for while, but I was fired up and knew that I’d pick it up again, soon.

Then another project, then another project… 

In the spring, I decided it was time to get back to work.  My break had been long enough that continuity was going to be an issue, so  I was going to use NaNoEdMo (Novel Editing Month) in March to re-familiarize myself with the draft so far and get some red inking in to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April…  Life got busy, more photography and video projects came rolling through…  No editing, no writing…  Not even any reading.

And now it is November again, and here I am.

So I will be a renegade in 2013.  I will participate this year, but I will have different goals, and the primary one is to build better writing habits that are sustainable while working on other projects.  Because of this, I do not want to drop everything and jam through to 50K or even just the end of the book, if that is (hopefully) closer than 50K words away.

I fear that if I set that goal and saw that it was unattainable that I would just bail on November entirely, like I did last Spring when things got busy, and that is exactly the opposite of what I want to do this year.

I also cannot drop everything for one project, and with the heavy demands of my family on my time (I am something like the on-site, full time social worker for my extended family, a role that is my “day job” right now), I need to work on making writing a part of my life most days, not just for insane spurts a couple months out of the year.  So even if I could drop everything for a mad NaNoWriMo rush, doing so runs counter to my goals.

A few days back, while trying to find time (see, that is the issue I am trying to fix here) to write this post, an old friend of mine, Mia Marshal posted a great post on NaNoWriMo, about what it has meant to her and on why she is not participating this year.

In essence, Mia explains that “NaNoWriMo…  taught me what it means to be a writer.”  It taught her the discipline one needs and it gave her the tools she needs and the experience she needs to be a full time, professional writer.  However, for her, because she has learned these lessons, now she is in a great place where:

…what I used to call NaNoWriMo, I now just call writing. At some point in the last two years, 50,000 words a month became my new normal, and it’s why I now call myself a writer.

Recently, I found myself in the mind blowing position where I needed to get some business cards printed up for my photography and video work.  Not because I wanted them, but because people kept asking me for one.  However, at the end of the day, I still consider myself a writer first, so I put that on my new cards, as well.

But Mia boils it down to the brass tacks.  I can call myself a writer all day long, and I can consider myself a writer, because I used to do that thing and because I want to do that thing again.  But until I can make NaNoWriMo every month, and not a crazy, burn everything except for writing experience but a natural, intergral part of what I do most days, then it doesn’t matter what is on my card or in my heart, because I am not doing the thing that I am claiming to do.

So my goal for NaNoWriMo 2013 is not a word count.  My goal this year is to develop the discipline and tools I need to make writing a regular habit, a near daily part of my life, whether or not it is writing 1,667 words per day or not.  And yes, I do want to finish last year’s book. But, if I succeed in my goal, it doesn’t matter if I finish it by the end of November or not, because I will finish it.  And I will edit and rewrite.  And I will start working on the next one after that.

A few years ago I started posting a Photo of the Day on Rubble.  I stopped doing that a little over a year ago, because I felt that I’d achieved my goals with that project, which was forcing myself to work on photography every day.

As I wrote when I ended the Photo of the Day:

When I first started the POTD on February 13, 2011, I was in a very different place in life than I am right now.  I was in a rebuilding phase and, as a part of that rebuilding, I wanted to put more focus on photography as I moved ahead in life.

Well, if the main goal of the project was to inspire me to take more photos, that is a mission accomplished. 

Beyond accomplishing the goal of taking more photos, it also made me a better photographer.  When I started the POTD project in early 2011 I was someone who enjoyed taking pictures.  Almost three years later, I am going pro, and a big part of that is because I work on it every day in one way or another.  At this point, I don’t need an artifical framework to force myself to do this.  It now just who I am and what I do.

Starting a similar process with my fiction writing?  That is my goal for NaNoWriMo 2013.

It is November 2 and I still haven’t re-read my draft from last year, so that is where I am starting.  Organizing my notes and re-reading the existing draft.  After that, I’ll either continue working towards finishing that draft, or I’ll start a complete re-write, depending on what I find over the next few days.  Either way, it will be a little time before I break zero on my word count.

But this is good.  Because I am doing it and not just thinking about it.  It’s been too long since I’ve been doing and not just thinking about it, and I look forwards to getting to know my characters again.  I’ve been away from them for far too long and, I promise, it will be different this time!

A Bookkeeping Note…

For the last year or two, I was posting these sorts of posts on my Rubble blog.  However, over time my plans for these blogs have changed and evolved.  At one point, Rubble was going to be my blog for all things arts oriented and this was going to be my blog for personal stuff, whether it was posts about family oriented issues, pictures of the kids, or just self-indulgent navel gazing.

I suppose that over the last year, I’ve come to realize that posts like this one are probably more in the self-indulgent navel gazing category rather than in the arts category. 

Well, that may be a bit harsh.  But as my artistic and professional life has evolved over the last year or so, so has my plans for these blogs.  I was originally going to write a series of articles on my son’s special needs and dealing with life with a son with ASD and other such things for this blog, but I really don’t have the time now to do such a thing (oh, and it also turns out that ASD was a mis-diagnosis). 

So one reason to move these posts from Rubble to SE2 is so I’ll actually have stuff to post here!  But still, they are more personal and I want to, from here on, at least, keep Rubble for other sorts of less personal posts.

Monday, September 9, 2013

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS! - That First R Rated Movie - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS! - That First R Rated Movie - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.:

'via Blog this'

First day of school - 2013 Version

It's here. School is finally starting! Bittersweet this year. A lot of transitions with new schools... And we were having a lot of fun, so it is sort of a bummer to be slamming back into reality and routine.

Little one is in a new school for the 5th grade and getting back into mainstream classrooms after a long detour through some special programs. Home schooling half the day to start, also, so no huge "freedom" celebrations today...

And the big one is starting high school. Damn. Nothing more needs to be said about that, except, I suppose, that he put a lot of hard work in the last couple years and is set to do very well at this new level in his education.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook

I've been noticing this.  Offered to discuss getting an account for my son (who isn't on any networks that I know of) and he said that he didn't want one.  I was relieved.

I'm 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook:

"Although I do have a Facebook, none of my other friends do. My friends just thought it was a waste of time. I decided to get a Facebook just to see what it was all about. I soon discovered that Facebook is useless without friends. My only friend is, like, my grandma."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving Day

February 15, 2011.  Photo taken in the Spring of 2008.  In honor of all the recent drama, Kali.  From Wikipedia: Kali is considered the goddess of time and change. Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation still has some influence. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shakta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also revered as Bhavatarini (literally "redeemer of the universe").

Moving day. I've been in this place for just under nine years and I expected that today would feel a little bittersweet, but no. I am ready to move on. The shape of my life has changed so much that it just does not fit here anymore. Still, for the most part, I will think back fondly on this place where I've raised my kids, got sober, and rediscovered myself in so many ways. But it is time to move on.

This is the start of the end of a process that started last November, and in a few weeks it will be done. That will be a huge relief!

We are doing a rolling move. Mom's stuff is arriving late next week, so I want to get the apartment cleared by then, and the storage space, and have all of that stuff sorted and set up before then. Then we'll get mom's stuff set up before receiving Jenna's stuff...

So there is a lot of work ahead. I hope to have all of everyone else's stuff that is in the apartment in the house by the time I go to bed tonight. My stuff? Well, I have a lot of packing still to do, but once the rest of the apartment is clear, I can knock my room and storage closet out in a couple days. Really, even with the storage space, I was running out of room to store packed items, so I've just left it for when I can just pack and move all at once.

Some long days ahead, but it is good work and when it is done, I really feel like I can start moving ahead with some parts of life that have been neglected while this six month process has been progressing.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Where I am with what now…

From Rubble: Where I am with what now…

Tower Repair  Sloughouse, California.  December 20, 2012.

Overall, family needs have taken much more of my time than I'd hoped the last few weeks, so I was not able to do much with NaNoEdMo last month and Camp NaNoWriMo is looking like a pass this month, too. I'll get to my novel, but now is apparently not the time for me to be finishing the darn thing.

I've got about a week to finish my next video and then I may have a little video project on deck after that one. We've got to re-launch the house hunt. We've got a lot of work ahead with the boys over the next month or so as we finalize some plans for their education next year. And life, unexpected, will continue to show up in both exciting and wonderful or disappointing and ugly ways, depending on the day...

So, that's what's going on right now... 

Taking this down for now.  Maybe things will change later this month, but for now?  Maybe one of the later sessions this year.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Shiloh's 1st "Big Out"

Sandy River Delta, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.  March 8, 2013.

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Consequences v. Punishments

Gresham, Oregon.  January 17, 2011.

Saw this article and the short comment I intended to post with it on Facebook grew a bit longer than I’d initially intended, so I am throwing it up here instead…

Discipline Vs Punishment: What Outcome Do We Really Want?:

If a child creates a disturbance, bothers others, does anything for which punishment is considered a deterrent, this is evidence that, at the very least, the adult's goals have no relevance to the child's feeling at the moment. It may indicate that the child bears resentments against controlling adults, or against other people in general. Punishment can only secure conformity to goals which are neither felt nor valued by the child. The order secured by punishment or threat of punishment may satisfy the adult, but it can only teach conformity to the child, and it will almost inevitably produce resentment. Such resentment may be one of the most common and important aspects of growing up in our culture.

This is a decent article and I agree with the defined difference between "discipline" and "punishment."  The article gets it mostly right but I feel it suffers some because it fails to point out that a part of teaching discipline is imposing consequences for actions in situations where natural consequences may not be obvious to the child.

Quite often, parents are stuck in a position where the adult's goals are never going to have any relevance to the child that the child can perceive, but are important nevertheless.  Sometimes these are even health and safety issues, such as safe behavior in public spaces or even simple things like eating one’s vegetables at dinner.

In these cases, it is critical that the parent can provide consequences for the child that can help the child understand what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, safe or unsafe, healthy or unhealthy, to provide relevance to the child in situations where the child may not be able to recognize relevance at that point in their mental and emotional development.

But I agree that there is an important, but fine and fuzzy, line between consequences and punishments, and that every effort should be made to connect the consequences with the behaviors that need correcting.

Unfortunately, these are usually the very situations where the child will often have the hardest time understanding the connection.  Since they may not understand why they need to change their behavior in the first place, it is hard to form a connection between the consequence and the behavior that will seem natural to them, and quite often, though we are doing our best, our imposed consequences will seem, to the child, to be the random punishments spoken against in the article.

Still, it is important that we do this when necessary.  There is a reason why most kids do not live on their own until they are 18 or older.  It is because they need parents to provide these boundaries and to teach them the discipline they need to survive on their own.

Of course, the key to this is to teach the child the self-discipline referred to in the article.  This is the long term goal.  The real difference between punishments and consequences is that the former is easy and the latter requires more effort on the part of the parent.  It requires sitting down with the child and discussing what happened and why, later on when emotions have cooled, but not too much later when memories of the event in question have softened.  It requires having consistent consequences for targeted behaviors, so the child knows what to expect when he or she acts in certain ways, and it requires some creativity to make the consequences as relevant as possible to the behaviors in question, to feel as natural as possible to the child.

It also requires building trust with the child from the earliest ages on, so when we, as parents, say “don’t do that” the child feel comfortable that we have good reasons for setting the boundaries and having the behavioral expectations we have for them, reducing the need to impose consequences to enforce compliance with our boundaries and expectations.

Children are children, though, not little adults, and because of this, from time to time, all else will fail and we will have to impose consequences that are essentially punishments for their actions.  However, this too is a part of learning how to survive in the world. 

As the kids grow up, in school the consequences for non-compliance tend to be more punitive, especially as they grow older.  As they head out into the world, there are punishments for non-compliance at work, you get fired.  There are punishments for non-compliance with the law, you get fined or go to jail or prison.  Punishments are a part of the world we are preparing them for, and it is important that they learn this too.

As I’ve said, there will also be times when the only way to get the child to comply will be through consequences that feel more punitive in nature, and it is important that we don’t flinch when these times come.  But it is critical that we lead with love and not anger, with the desire to teach more than the desire to punish.  Still, from time to time, our kids will be angry with us because they will not understand, and we’ll feel guilty for not finding the magic, fabled sentence that could have redirected the situation before such consequences became necessary, and sometimes we’ll just get it plain wrong.  We are humans and we make mistakes too.

It is a fine and fuzzy line, but if we keep this in mind and put in the extra effort, many more times than not it will work out exactly as it is supposed to and, eventually, the child and adult will get through these things stronger and better prepared for the next incident that comes along than we were before.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

What’s next? Another video, some editing, & some writing…

From Rubble: What’s next? Another video, some editing, & some writing…

Lowering through the smoke.   Big Lava Bed.  Skamania Co., Washington.  September 16, 2012.
Forgot to set my clock for the time change and now my computer is running slow.  Annoying morning.  Rushing to get out the door for church (or not) and, later, an old friend’s memorial service.

But I wanted to take a few minutes (precious minutes) to pause and take stock for a minute…

Finished my Dead Can Dance video last week.  A LOT of hard work went into that, all during a very hectic time in my life.  I am proud of it, but I know that it is not what it should be.

At first I was very relieved that it was done and I was looking forward to being able to really take some down time and to re-focus my attention on some family issues (the little one is having a pretty rough time right now and, of course, part two of the great move…) and on still photography and writing…

This was supposed to be the first time since mid-October when I didn’t have a big project deadline hanging over my head and big ticket life stuff going along at the same time.

Of course, there is still the whole chore of getting a house, but we are taking a time out from that endeavor to focus on getting stabilized as a family after all of the big ticket items going down since November.

However, with my video, at the last moment I realized that it might not be eligible to win because of the sculptures I used in it.  It was all public art (or visible from the street, at the very least) and I thought that it would be all right to use those images without releases.  However, a closer look at the fine print, and it might not be.

So, if my video is selected as a finalist or as the winner, there may be a crazy 72 hours running around trying to get clearances for the sculptures in the video.  However, unfortunately, I don’t think it is going to be an issue.

I wanted to spend a lot of time working on the editing for that piece, and it ended up being a last minute rush job because real life intruded heavily the week before the deadline.  I sort of feel like I submitted a first draft, not a final draft. 

Because of these two issues, I am left feeling really unfulfilled after all of the work I put in.

Genero has another video project up, though, that I would really like to work on.  I can use a lot of footage I shot for the Dead Can Dance video, shoot a little bit of new stuff, and bang this one out pretty quick with proper time to edit the thing.

In some ways, it will feel like a re-do of the Dead Can Dance video.  Not really, because it will be exploring slightly different themes, so maybe it is more like a follow up? 

Considering all the unused footage I have left from Dead Can Dance, some lessons learned while working on the DCD piece, and the fact that it is a shorter song, this should be a project I can knock down without disrupting our lives too much between now and the April deadline.

And it doesn’t feel like a big crazy deadline project because of this, though there will still be a little bit of dropping everything and running during the three or four days of sunshine we have between now and the deadline.  Need more time lapse footage!

Of course, it does look like I am allowed to re-tweak the Dead Can Dance video and re-upload it.  The deadline is met, but I can still modify the thing, apparently.  However, I need a couple more days distance before deciding whether or not to spend a crazy 24 hours or so re-cutting the damn thing.

Pretty much I feel like I’ve done the work I can put in on this one and that it is time to move on, though if a couple small changes might help it, then maybe…   However, I am not going so far as to take the worrisome sculptures out, because that would involve re-thinking the whole video.  I could do this, but it would not be the video I wanted to make at all.

Then there is the writing.  After the two big video projects (One Day On Earth and the Dead Can Dance video), I need to get back on finishing the first draft of my novel! 

A plan has evolved.  First I will re-emerse myself in the novel through this month’s National Novel Editing Month, and then I will finish the first draft during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

This is something of a change in direction for me.  I haven’t looked at the thing since the first week of December or so, so I knew I’d have to go back and at least read the draft I have so far, but then I discovered that a group is running  NaNoEdMo this month (National Novel Editing Month).  My first reaction was that I did not want to get bogged down with editing the first 2/3 of the book before I’d written the ending…

Yet, since there will have to be some reading this month anyway, and that will be accompanied by some red inking and notes…  So yes, I do have a fair amount of editing to do this month, one way or the other, before I feel comfortable resuming the actual writing.   

A late start, yes, but NaNoEdMo is on.   I am still setting this up, but I know this so far.  There will not be any attempt to reach some crazy goal.  I am not going for a “win” here.  I will try to get to the end of the draft with a bunch of red inking and some minor notes, and that is about it.

So why participate in the first place?  Well, NaNoWriMo was a wonderful experience where I could interact with other people who were having the same experience I was with their artistic efforts.  I haven’t had that sense of community with my last two project and, well, I miss it.

Sure, I post a lot of crazy manic stuff about my projects on Facebook, but no one there really can relate (or cares that much, let’s be honest!).  But with NaNoWriMo, people did relate because, in those forums, they were all going through the exact same thing…

This is all in prep for the April Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be using that venue to finish the damn book.  This is cool because, unlike November’s NaNoWriMo, this event has variable goals, and I can set them to meet the projected length of the novel.

Right now I am aiming for 110,000 words.  That will involve some significant cuts during NaNoEdMo and a rather economical run to the end of the novel.  I am worried that it will be hard to fit it all in in 30K words, but there may be up to 20K that I can trim (10K is more likely) this month.
So, I am looking at up to about 50,000 words to churn out in April, but I think it will go quickly, once I am settled back into the world of the book and, from where I left off to the end, everything is practically written in my head already.  It is just a matter of banging through to the end.


Camp NaNoWriMo:

Dead Can Dance Video:

Olafur Arnalds Video:

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two opportunities I am excited about…

From Rubble: Two opportunities I am excited about…

The plan for this year is to pretty much enter everything…  Submit, submit, submit!

In California, I had some issues with one of my email accounts, so I am slogging through three months of old email this morning, and I found two opportunities that I am very interested in.

Of course, I am too busy to actually read all the details right now, and with dead, I guess I am stuck posting them here for review later…

While working on this year’s One Day video, I started thinking it would be very nice to start working on some real music videos.  Look what washed up this morning…  Perfect? 

I’ll look into this more later to make sure, but I think I found my next project.

Dead Can Dance | Make the music video for 'Children of the Sun' |

Dead Can Dance want you to make the music video for their song Children of the Sun off Anastasis their first studio album in 16 years.

They have left the brief wide open feel free to be creative in your interpretation!

Deadline for submissions is 4 March 2013, 23:59 GMT time.

I have looked into this one less, but just off the cuff it looks like something else that is a good match for the type of work I am wanting to focus on right now, playing with abstract-ish images in a more calculated, planned way…

Blue Sky Announces "The Optical" Call for Entries:

We've all had the experience of looking at a photograph and not being able to decipher it right away. We ask ourselves "What am I looking at?" Photographer and collector Allan Chasanoff became a connoisseur of this interval of confusion before the image resolves. He found a visceral pleasure in confronting an image that refused to make visual sense, delighting in its resistance and delighting again when that resistance was overcome - a delicious tension and release.

"To be hit by a dislocation transcends the visual alone, and there is a momentary visceral response. It stuns me. It interrupts the stare and startles me. Thus, a major part of my effort in collecting pictures was to find those that did that. The photograph, the genre, the history and the aura of the picture are secondary to this shock. That is why I collected so-called straight images, for a dislocation in the usual." - Allan Chasanoff

Mr. Chasanoff spent nearly 20 years collecting more than 1,200 of photographs, many of which embodied this optical problem in photography ("the Optical"), and donated that collection to Yale University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Now he has agreed to jury for Blue Sky a show of your (single-exposure, non-photoshop, "straight") photographs that resist immediate visual deciphering.

For examples of the the type of photos Mr. Chasanoff is seeking for this exhibition, follow this link to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and reference these publications:First Doubt - Optical Confusion in Modern Photography: Selections from the Allan Chasanoff Collection and Tradition and the Unpredictable.

For reference…

MFAH | Collections | The Allan Chasanoff Photographic Collection:

Allan Chasanoff relishes pictures that puzzle him, and he wants others to enjoy these surprises. He built his collection of 20th-century photographs by questioning what occurs when the camera “captures” the real world but the resulting image creates confusion rather than clarity, challenging photography's reputation as a dependable document. In 1991, the New York-based collector donated nearly 1,000 works to the MFAH by photographers ranging from Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, and Joel Peter Witkin to relatively unknown artists.

Dead Can Dance: Children of the Sun - Lyrics

Children of the Sun is the album’s 'welcome to the show'. The lyric addresses human evolution and how our genetic code is infused with ancient memory, right up to the present, celebrating nature – the Woodstock generation’s legacy.

We are ancient, as ancient as the sun
We came from the ocean, once our ancestral home
So that one day we could all return
To our birthright, the great celestial dome

We are the children of the sun
Our journey's just begun
Sunflowers in our hair
We are the children of the sun
There's room for everyone
Sunflowers in our hair

Throughout the ages of iron, bronze and stone
We marvelled at the night sky and what may lie beyond
We Burned offerings to the elemental ones
made sacrifices for beauty, peace and love

We are the children of the sun
Our kingdom will come
Sunflowers in our hair
We are the children of the sun
Our carnival's begun
Our songs will fill the air

And you know it's time
To look for reasons why
Just reach up and Touch the sky
To the heavens we'll ascend

We are the children of the sun
Our journey has begun

All the older children come out at night
Anaemic, soulless, great hunger in their eyes
Unaware of the beauty that sleeps tonight
And All the queen's horses and all the king's men
Will never put these children back together again

Our charities
Our enemies

We are the children of the sun

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from tag abstract

from tag video (more..)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Farewell, (& thanks!)

Fullscreen capture 1232013 73725 AM

So, was bought by Yahoo and is being shut down. They've put together a "Hall of Fame" of contributors and I was named as one of the top contributors in the "Politics & World" category...

From an email I received from their Content Director:

I want to personally thank you for all your amazing contributions to the product, both in your snips and in your feedback to us. I’ve been continually impressed by all the interesting, unique content you’ve unearthed, as well as your thoughtful commentary on it. The quality of your contributions made the site an absolute joy to browse. 

To honor all of your support and contributions, we’ve included you in our Hall of Fame, a place to celebrate our top snippers. We’ve included your Twitter handle, so people can continue to follow your insights.

We've also created a Hall of Fame, where we’re honoring some of the top contributors to the community. We’ve included their Twitter handles so you can continue to stay connected and follow their insights.

I joined while it was still in beta and have posted to it more days than not since then.  They’ve been cool, it’s a great service, and their staff has been very supportive.  From nearly the beginning, they featured my content, which I was pretty proud of, and I seem to have attracted quite a few followers there.

Supposedly, they will be reinventing themselves with Yahoo.  I hope so.  They were a great service.

We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring's vision to a larger scale at Yahoo!. While we can't share the specifics of what we'll be building, we are excited about the opportunity to take social news to new, exciting heights at Yahoo!. The Yahoo! team is passionate about inspiring and entertaining the world’s daily habits, and certainly sharing news and information is something we all do every day. The vision and energy at the company is contagious, and we’re so excited to be part of all that is to come.

So now, I just need to figure out what to do with the links I’ve saved there.  There are a couple ways to download them for future use, and I’ll be taking a look at how to get these back out there, when I have a little time…

I just deleted the Snip It button from my browser.  That makes me sad. 

Unfortunately, in life, with both the good and the bad, “This, too, shall pass…”

My Collections: HTML Links All My Base Belong To You - HTML Links Democracy In Distress - HTML Links Favorites Retrovirus Lab - HTML Links Rubble - HTML Links Suburban Eschatology Part Two - HTML Links

Yahoo Is In Talks To Buy A Site We Actually Use, Snip.It

Snip.It is a social site that resembles a mash up of Pinterest's collections and Instapaper's ability to save links for consumption later.

Read more:

Yahoo Poised to Acquire Content Curation Site - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD: was founded by Ramy Adeeb, who was formerly a principal at Khosla Ventures, and has funding from Khosla, True Ventures, Charles River Ventures and SV Angel.

Yahoo is paying “mid teens” of millions of dollars for the company, according to a source.

Kara Swisher yesterday described Yahoo’s new approach to content:

While one might argue that Google is already the Google of content, the plan is to make Yahoo more relevant by tailoring it to the individual and make the site a “trusted destination to get them to where they want to go and keep going back.”

Thus, the thinking goes, while Google is the place people come to search for links, Yahoo then becomes the place users come to find content. That means more partnership deals from third-party sources, with an additional social component layer and synced across a number of devices and platforms, especially video.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 in 40 Questions: A “Meme”tastic New Year

I usually do not do this, but what the hell.  I’ve been wanting to write something about the transition from one arbitrary set of days to the next arbitrary set of days, and this meme provides as good of a format as anything… 

I stole the questions from a friend’s blog.  Don’t know where she got them from.

2012 was a complicated year.  Maybe a meme is what I need to help make sense of it. 

Fair Oaks, California.  January 4, 2013.1 What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

This gets right to the meat and bones of how 2012 will go down in the books…

Families are complicated these days, and instead of having just two parents, this number can range from one to many.  For me, there are four, though my mother and father both married their current spouses after I was grown, so I tend to refer to them as my parents’ husband and wife as opposed to “stepparents.”

However, I’ve been fearing the day when one of the “big four” would pass, having just buried the last of my grandparents a couple years back…

On November 8, my mother’s husband Mario passed.  While he was still more of my mother’s husband than my stepfather, his passing is in the process of completely re-arranging my world.

I’ve been fearing having to make funeral arrangements for anyone, no longer...  I’ve been fearing “what to do” with mom or dad when the time came when they could no longer live on their own, no longer… 

A lot of firsts are wrapped up in this event.

2 Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes and No. 

I wanted to make further strides towards becoming a “professional” photographer & writer in fields outside of Technical Writing, and life was too complicated this year to do much towards pursing this goal, other than just taking a lot of pictures.  This is a goal that will continue in 2013.

This time last year my number one goal was to try to get a gallery showing (okay, some pictures on a coffeehouse or bar wall) by the end of the year.  Not even close.

However, I did get two-thirds the way through draft of a novel, and that ain’t nothing.  If life had gone according to plan, that draft would have been finished by January 1, 2013.

These sorts of things are more goal than resolutions, but resolutions are not something I really do.  Daily resolutions are more my pace, since life in recovery is lived, in this sense, one day at a time.

3 Did anyone close to you give birth?

Since I have to pause and think before answering this question, I will say no.

4 Did anyone close to you die?


5 What countries did you visit?

Only my own.

6 What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

The space and time to not only develop some more serious career goals but to actually have the space and time to pursue them.

7 What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 8.  See many of my other answers here.

8 What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Seeing the progress my children have made towards overcoming their issues since I got custody in 2011.

9 What was your biggest failure?

Not being able to help the boys’ mother progress further towards overcoming some of her issues.

10 Did you suffer illness or injury?

Other than a pesky strained ankle that bugged me from the spring through the end of the summer until I got off my feet a bit and let it heal, no.  Thank God!

11 What was the best thing you bought?

While I received some amazing gifts this year, I bought very little for myself outside of a few books about once every three months.  Probably a subscription to flikr PRO would be the most rewarding and productive “purchase” of the year.

12 Whose behavior merited celebration?

My children have been remarkable this year.

13 Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Congressional Republicans?  The news media?  Of course.  On a more personal front, I would rather not go there.  I truly believe that everyone in my life has been trying to do the best they can, though mileage has varied.

14 Where did most of your money go?


15 What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Watching my boys really come together in 2012.  Specifically, the big one seeing some real, independent success in school and the little one making new friends where ever he goes.

Of course, the opportunities brought about by having reliable transportation after a nearly year of busing, biking, and walking and from the DSLR I received for my birthday/Christmas are up there too.  Finding out about the Adobe Cloud (which gives me all the software I’ll need for my 2013 goals at a price even I can afford) ranks pretty highly, as well.

16 What song will always remind you of 2012?

Really, this is hard to answer right now.   It will be interesting to see what songs take me back to this period of my life in the future. 

Probably anything by Murder By Death, O’Death, Ha Ha Tonka, and Kelly Hogan’s I Like To Keep Myself In Pain will be taking me back to the 2011 / 2012 period years from now.

But, if I have to pick one song, “Society” by Eddie Vedder will probably be the song I associate the most with 2012.  Partially because I am using it in my One Day On Earth video, so I am hearing it a lot right now, but mostly because of the lyrics.

This song reflects a lot of what I have learned about myself in 2012. A lot about how my perceptions of what I need and want from the world have changed this year. How my perceptions about where I am in life and where I am heading in life have changed over the last 12 months or so.

It is the song I used in this video.

One Day On Earth: 12.12.12 - Stills I: What I Have & What I Need from A. F. Litt on Vimeo.

17 Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? 
This is a difficult question.  There is a lot of sorrow right now, and a lot of fear due to some major changes taking place in my life, re-defining my life, but I would say that, underneath it all, I am happier.

I am more content and I am more secure about who I am, what I am doing in life, and where I am going in life and, really, who could ask for more?

So, happier, I would say, though this is a difficult and sad time.

ii. thinner or fatter?

Easy one, thinner.  Though that may not be the case if I don’t start getting some more exercise soon.

iii. richer or poorer?

Spiritually, I am much richer.  Financially, about the same.

18 What do you wish you'd done more of?

I wish I had the time and energy to work more with the boys’ mother and to help her find a more content place in her own life.

And more camping and hiking.  Always.  But I got as much in as circumstances would allow in 2012.

19 What do you wish you'd done less of?

Staring at screens in unproductive ways.  Mostly this would have been last winter.  It took awhile for me to figure out what I wanted to be doing with this time in my life and spending my “free time” trying to drive up hits on my websites was not the best use of my time, though I re-oriented away from this fairly early in 2012.

20 How will you be spending Christmas?

Past tense, now.  Not in any way I could have foreseen before November 8.  I had hoped to spend Christmas with all of my family in California celebrating a hell of a lot of successes since my last trip down here in 2010 / 2011. 

Unfortunately, aside from my geographical location, this Christmas couldn’t have been more opposite from that and it was not a pleasant day.

xMass 2012: Fair Oaks, California from A. F. Litt on Vimeo.

22 Did you fall in love in 2012?

No.  Not even close.

23 How many one-night stands?


24 What was your favorite TV program?

Firefly.  It and Lost were the only two shows I took any time to watch this year and I really enjoyed both of them, though Firefly wins by a nudge.  Of course, they were only new to me.

25 Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No.  I don’t have the time for that crap.

26 What was the best book you read?

I re-discovered Faulkner and loved every second I spent reading the Snopes Trilogy in 2012 (though I am still finishing the third novel, The Mansion).

27 What was your greatest musical discovery?

Easily Ha Ha Tonka.  Never heard of them before they opened up for Murder By Death this summer.

28 What did you want and get?

Most everything I needed.  Really.  I am not kidding, even in a materialistic sense.  I was very blessed in this way this year.

29 What did you want and not get?

Well, I still need a new external hard drive, though access to my mother’s laptop has mitigated this need temporarily.  Other than that, nothing comes to mind.

30 What was your favorite film of this year?

I will say The Hobbit though I have yet to see it yet.  Just the fact that it exists is enough for me.

This was not a big year for movies for me and, after the Dark Night shootings, my interest in going to the theater really evaporated.  Strange, for me.  Such things usually do not affect me like that.  Finances were also an issue for most of the year and contributed quite a bit to this gap.

Oh, and I might have been one of the only people in the world to have given John Carter a fair shot and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

31 What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 40 and had a very nice day taking pictures and exploring the country outside of Sacramento before spending a great evening with an old friend. 

I suppose I am fortunate that I got all of the turning 40 angst out of my system last year when I turned 39.

32 What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If the boys’ mother had been able to make a bit more progress towards her treatment goals. 

33 How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?


34 What kept you sane?

Faith.  Period.  Though photography and writing helped a lot.  It was nice adding the writing to the mix for the first time in years.

35 Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


36 What political issue stirred you the most?

Of course the presidential election had me the most fired up, but the most moving issue for me was to see that Gay Rights are becoming accepted by a majority of Americans.  It is abhorrent to me to see my LGBT friends not being treated as equals in the U.S.

There is still a long way to go with these issues, but I really believe that 2012 will be seen as the year when the tide irrevocably turned on LGBT rights.
37 Who did you miss?

Mario and, while I am away helping mom through this time, my children.

38 Best new person you met?

A great community of local Portland writers in the NaNo Portland Facebook group. 

In “real” life, though I did not technically meet them this year, I gained a couple of good, new friends in the faith and recovery communities and I look forward to building those friendships more in 2013.

39 Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

It is not a lesson I learned this year, but it was re-affirmed in some powerful ways...  Faith can get us through anything.

40 Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.


Related Posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Wheezy List

This is an old tradition with Jenna, going back to before I met her many years ago…  We pick ten celebrities that, for whatever reason, we don’t expect to make it through the New Year.


She has some arcane scoring system, but I don’t know what it is.  Essentially, the elderly and the walking dead only get partial points.

Some names are pretty random, picking the long shots…

No prizes, just a vague feeling of superiority at besting the other competitors.

Our picks for this year (in no particular order)…


  1. Lindsey Lohan
  2. Charlie Sheen
  3. Charlie Watts
  4. George H.W. Bush 
  5. Madeline Albright 
  6. Walter Koeing (Chekov)
  7. Paris Hilton 
  8. Bob Dole 
  9. Gladys Knight
  10. B. B. King 


  1. Cher
  2. Willie Nelson
  3. Tom Cruise
  4. Hillary Clinton
  5. William Shatner
  6. Leonard Nimoy
  7. Henry Winkler
  8. Madonna
  9. Dolly Parton
  10. Kim Kardashian